This study uses Tobit and Logit models to examine the impacts of selected small-scale irrigation schemes in the Lake Tana basin of Ethiopia on household income and the likelihood of poverty, respectively.

Data for these analyses were collected from a sample of 180 households. Households using any of the four irrigation systems had statistically significantly higher mean total gross household income than households not using irrigation. The marginal impact of small-scale irrigation on gross household income indicated that each small scale-irrigation user increased mean annual household income by ETB 3353 per year, a 27% increase over income for non-irrigating households.

A Logit regression model indicated that access to irrigation significantly reduced the odds that a household would be in the lowest quartile of household income, the poverty threshold used in this study. Households using concrete canal river diversion had higher mean cropping income per household than those using other irrigation types.

Key challenges to further enhancing the benefits of irrigation in the region include water seepage, equity of water distribution, availability of irrigation equipment, marketing of irrigated crops and crop diseases facilitated by irrigation practices.

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This paper was first presented at the Nile Basin Development Challenge Science meeting. The NBDC Science meeting was held on 9 and 10 July 2013 at the ILRI-Ethiopia campus, with the objectives to exchange experiences and research results across NBDC scientists involved in the NBDC projects and to discuss challenges and possible solutions.

Although Ethiopia has a large potential to develop irrigation, only 5% of the 3.5 million hectares of land potentially available has been developed. To examine the underlying causes, this study evaluates the suitability of surface water irrigation for the Lake Tana Basin development corridor.

Surface water availability and land potentially suitable for medium and large-scale irrigation development (200 ha and larger) was considered. Surface water potential was examined by considering river discharges. Land suitable for irrigation was determined with a GIS-based multi-criteria evaluation (MCE), which considers the interaction of various factors, such as climate, river proximity, soil type, land cover, topography/slope and market outlets.

The result indicates that nearly 11% of the Lake Tana Basin is suitable for surface irrigation. However, by analysing 27 years of river discharge, less than 3% of the potential irrigable area (or less than 0.25% of the basin area) could be irrigated consistently by run-of-the river-systems. Thus, the irrigation potential in the Lake Tana Basin can only be met by increasing dry season flows (if proven feasible) and by supplying water from existing or future reservoirs or by using water directly from Lake Tana.

See the presentation:

Read the paper

See the full proceedings of the NBDC Science meeting


This paper was first presented at the Nile Basin Development Challenge Science meeting. The NBDC Science meeting was held on 9 and 10 July 2013 at the ILRI-Ethiopia campus, with the objectives to exchange experiences and research results across NBDC scientists involved in the NBDC projects and to discuss challenges and possible solutions.